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Member of the Wilmington. N. C. Bar. 





- iS/:J^. ^ 

% ')XS^'^'^0.^.1>Lr 



MAR S3 1905 

Wilmington, N. C, Feb. 5, 1906. 
Junius Davis, Esq. 

Dear Sib : — The undersigned, your fellow-citizens, having 
read with great interest and satisfaction your admirable con- 
tribution to North Carolina history, entitled, "Some Facts 
About John Paul Jones," published in the "South Atlantic 
Quarterly," and desiring that this unique elucidation of the 
mystery of Chevalier Jones' adopted name be published in 
pamphlet form, in order that it may be placed in public libra- 
ries and in private collections for future guidance, most cor- 
dially felicitate you upon its production and request your 
permission for its more extended circulation. 
Yours faithfully, 

(Signed) A. M. Waddell, 

John D. Taylob, 
O. P. Meabes, 


E. S. Mabtin, 
W. B. McKoY, 
G. G. Thomas, 
Clayton Giles, 


J. G. DeR. Hamilton, 
James Spbunt. 

(mb. davis' beply.) 

February 7, 1906. 
Deab Sibs: — Your courteous request for permission to 
republish in pamphlet form my article on Paul Jones, which 
recently appeared in the "South Atlantic Quarterly," has 
been received, and, as Mr. Edwin Mims, one of its editors, 
has cordially approved this proposal on being apprized there- 
of, I have to add with this permission my grateful thanks for 
your kind appreciation of my work. 

Yours truly, Junius Davis. 

Some Facts About John Paul Jones 

Member of the Wilmington, N. C, Bar. 

Thanks to the generous and untiring zeal of our late ambas- 
sador to France, the grave of John Paul Jones has recently 
been discovered in Paris, and his remains have been removed 
by the government to this country for interment at Annapolis. 
This discovery has revived the interest which our people have 
always taken in the career of this illustrious captain of the 
seas, and has of late provoked much discussion in the maga- 
zines and newspapers of the various incidents in his life, and, 
in particular, of the reason for his change of name. The 
reason for this change of nam© has ever been a puzzle to his 
biographers. Most of them pass it by with the mere state- 
ment that ^^he changed his name for unknown reasons." 
Some few attempt to account for it upon theories, which, 
while they may be plausible, yet do not appeal to the intelli- 
gent reader. Of these there are three, which perhaps seem 
most plausible, and which, one or another, are generally 
accepted as true by most people. I will proceed to give these, 
and the reasons which occur to me for rejecting them as un- 
sound and without anything but conjecture to support them. 

Sherboume, who was, I believe, the first American biogra- 
pher of Jones, says, on page 10 : "Our adventurer, being at 
length freed from the trammels of apprenticeship, made 
several voyages to foreign parts, and in the year 1773 again 
went to Virginia to arrange the affairs of his brother, who 
had died there without leaving any family; and about this 
time in addition to his original surname, he assumed the 
patronymic of Jones, his father's Christian name having been 
John. This custom, which is of classical authority, has long 
been prevalent in Wales, and in various other countries," and 
having built up his edifice to this point, he immediately pro- 

6 Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 

ceeds in the next breath to demolish it with the naive remark, 
^^although it is not practiced in that part of the island in 
which he was born." This idea was not original with Sher- 
bourne, but was taken by him from an article in the Edin- 
burgh Encyclopedia, which, Sherbourne says in a note on page 
11, he ^4eamed from Mr. Lowden, the nephew of Jones, a 
respectable merchant, now (1825) resident at Charleston, 
S. C, was written from the lips of Mr. Lowden's mother for 
that work by Dr. Duncan, of Dumfries, Scotland." Nor did 
it come from 'Hhe lips of Mr. Lowden's mother," as is plainly 
apparent from the context in Sherbourne and from the account 
given in the life of Jones commonly ascribed to his niece. Miss 
Jannette Taylor, but it was developed in the imagination of 
Dr. Duncan. 

Now whoever heard of a Scotchman rummaging among 
the traditions and customs of the Welsh in a search for a 
change of his name ? And who ever heard of such a custom 
being prevalent in any part of Scotland? Besides, at this 
period of his life, Jones was a matured man, twenty-six years 
of age, had come to settle definitely in America, had turned^ 
his back forever on his native land, and was never again to 
see a single member of his family. In fact, it was in 1771 
that he saw his relations in Scotland for the last time.* No 
one can read his life and his correspondence, without being 
impressed by the fact that his interest in his family was 
prompted more by duty and sentiment than by any real love 
or affection. He was often in England after 1771, but he 
never went near his family or evinced the least desire to see 
any of them. In truth he had risen far above the humble 
gardener, his father, and while he at times corresponded with 
his family, he moved in a different world in which they had 
no part. If it was filial affection which induced the patro- 
nymic of Jones, is it not certain that his family would have 
known it ? Would he not out of the same love have hastened 
to tell it to his mother who was then living, if not to his 

•Taylor, 28. 

Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 7 

sisters ? The mere fact that he did not do so, that he studi- 
ously concealed it from them, is to my mind the strongest 
refutation of this surmise of Dr. Duncan. It must be remem- 
bered also that when he took upon himself the name of Jo^eB, 
or shortly afterwards, he dropped the prsenomen John and 
usually called himself Paul Jones. 

In the life of Jones by his niece, Jannette Taylor, the only 
mention of this event is as follows (page 31) : ^^At the time 
when Paul settled (or, more properly, supposed he meant to 
settle,) in Virginia, it would seem that he assumed the addi- 
tional surname of Jones. Previous to this date, his letters 
are signed John Paul. We are left to conjecture the reason 
of this arbitrary change. His relations were never able to 
assign one; there is no allusion to the circumstance in the 
manuscripts which he left, and tradition is silent on the sub- 
ject/' The italics are mine. 

I take it that ^^tradition,'' as here used, meant tradition 
among the family in Scotland, and as so used, I admit the 
truth of it. But that tradition was silent in North Carolina, 
I deny, though it had not, at that time, spread beyond her 
border. We were ever proud of our traditions in this State, 
but clung to them so tenaciously that we were loath to let 
them stray abroad and be known to other people. 

Another theory, and the wildest of them all, but one which 
also has its believers, is that John Paul came to America and 
took the name of Jones to conceal his identity and avoid arrest 
for the murder of the carpenter Maxwell. I^ow, when Paul 
flogged Maxwell for his mutinous conduct, he was in com- 
mand of the ship John on his second voyage in her. He dis- 
charged Maxwell at the Island of Tobago in May, lYYO. 
Maxwell immediately had Paul haled before the Vice- 
Admiralty Court for assault, but the complaint was dismissed 
as frivolous. Later on, in England in 1YY2, he was charged 
with the murder of Maxwell, and it seems that an indictment, 
presumably for murder or manslaughter, was found against 

8 Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 

him. A complete and perfect contradiction of this calumny 
is to be found in Brady, pages 9 and 10, and Miss Taylor's 
book, pages 18 and 20, where she gives the affidavit of the 
Judge of the Vice-Admiralty Court, who heard the complaint 
of Maxwell, and of the master of the ship on which Maxwell 

So that it seems abundantly proven, not merely that Paul 
did not flee England on this account, but positively that he 
disdained to fly and met and boldly confronted the charge. 
In a letter written^by Paul to his mother and sisters, speaking 
of this occurrence, dated London, September 4, 1772, he says : 
"I staked my honor, life and fortune for six long months on 
the verdict of a British jury, notwithstanding I was sensible 
of the general prejudices which ran against me ; but, after all, 
none of my accusers had the courage to confront me.'' 

Another theory is the one first advanced by Buell in his 
"Life of Jones." This book is one of the latest attempts at 
an extended history of Jones, and in spite of some errors, is 
an exceedingly interesting work. Though written more than 
one hundred years after the death of Jones, and after numer- 
ous writers had seemingly exhausted every available source of 
light and information, he gives many incidents, and interest- 
ing ones too, in the career of Jones that were never heard of 
before. Some of these are highly colored and seemingly 
very improbable, and some without support in fact. But it 
is no part of this article to criticise Buell's book, save that 
part which refers to the reason for Jones's change of name. 

Buell says, page 1, that John Paul's older brother William 
was adopted in 1743 by a relative named William Jones, a 
well-to-do Virginia planter, while he was on a visit to Kirk- 
bean Parish, and that William then took the name of Jones. 
On page 6 he says: "Old William JonesMied in 1760, and 
by""ffieTerms of his will had made John Paul the residuary 
legatee of his brother (William) in case the latter should die 
without issue, provided that John Paul would assume, as his 
brother had done, the patronymic of Jones. On his visit to 

Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 9 

Kappahanock in 1769, Captain John Paul legally qualified 
under the provisions of the wiU of. William Jones by record- 
ing his assent to its requirements in due form." 

Naturally the reader would presume that the statement of 
an historical fact so positively made was based on record 
evidence; but not so. The entire statement is without sup- 
port in every particular. I have a duly certified copy of the 
-^illofJWilliam Paul, dated March 22, 1772, procured in 
May last from the clerk of the Circuit Court of Spottsylvania 
County, Virginia, and taken from the records on file in his 
office. It begins thus: "I, William Paul, of the town of 
Fredericksburg and county of Spottsylvania in Virginia, 
being in perfectly sound memory, thanks be to Almighty 
God,'' etc., etc. The third clause of the will is in these words : 
*'It is my will and desire that my lots and houses in this town 
be sold and converted into money for as much as they will 
bring, that with all my other estate being sold and what of my 
outstanding debts that can be collected, I give and bequeath 
unto my beloved sister, Mary Young, and her two eldest chil- 
dren, in Arbigland in Parish Kirkbean, in the Stewartry of 
Galloway, and their heirs forever. And I do hereby em- 
power my executors to sell and convey the said lots and 
houses and make a fee simple therein, and I do appoint my 
friends, Mr. William Templeman and Isaac Hislop, my exec- 
utors, to see this my will executed, confirming this to be my 
last will and testament.'^ 

This sister, Mary Young, afterwards married a Mr. Wil- 
liam Lowden, who removed to this country and was a mer- 
chant in Charleston, S. C, as late as 1825. Both of the 
executors renounced, and one John Atkinson was appointed 
administrator and gave bond in the sum of five hundred 
pounds, the amount fixed by the court. The will was admit- 
ted to probate December 16, 1774. It is subscribed ^William 
Paul,'' and the attestation clause is — "William Paul, having 
heard the above will distinctly read, declared the same to be 
his last will and testament in the presence of us." Three 

10 Some Facts About John Paul Jokes. 

several times in the will does the testator solemnly declare 
his name to be William Paul, and the name of his brother 
John Paul is not mentioned within the ^^four comers" of the 
instrument But this is not all. In June last, I wrote to 
the clerk of the Circuit Court of Spottsylvania County that 
it was asserted that one William Jones, planter, died in Fred- 
ericksburg about 1760, leaving a will in which he devised all 
of his property, including a plantation on the Eappahanock, 
to William Paul or John Paul, and asking him if this was 
true. In reply, he wrote me that William Jones did not men- 
tion the names of William Paul or John Paul in his will, and 
that the only tract of land owned by him, so far as the records 
showed, some 397 acres, had been sold in his lifetime. These 
facts would seem to be a complete refutation of Buell's state- 
ment. Yet, Vfery nearly all of the many writers who have of 
late been filling the newspapers and magazines with articles 
about Paul Jones, have adopted BuelFs theory and asserted 
it positively and confidently, without even giving Buell the 
credit of the discovery. Let us take one instance of the 
reckless manner in which these articles are written. A 
sketch of Paul Jones, written by Alfred Henry Lewis, is now 
running in the Cosmopolitan. In the August, 1905, number, 
Mr. Lewis gives the same account as does Buell for Paul's 
change of name. He says that in the month of April, 1773 — 
mark the date — Paul landed on the Eappahanock at the foot 
of the William Jones plantation, where his brother William 
was then living ; that he found him on his death bed, and his 
last words were that his name had been William Paul Jones 
since he inherited the plantation from William Jones, and 
that he, John, must take the name of John Paul Jones at his 
death, with the plantation. In the September number is 
printed, with the continuation of his article, a cut of William 
Paul's tombstone, bearing the name of William Paul — ^not 
William Paul Jones — inscribed upon it, and the date of his 
death as 1774. 

Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 11 

Is it not very singular, to say the least, that, if William 
Jones was a relative of Paul's, and while on a visit to Kirk- 
bean adopted William Paul, who then took the name of Jones, 
this fact was not known and well known to all of the members 
of the family ? How could such an important event in the 
quiet, secluded life of their humble home have been forgotten. 
And yet it was not known to his niece, Miss Taylor, who, as 
said before, came to this country to compile and write the life 
of her uncle, nor was it heard of until it was told to Buell by ^ 
the great grandnephew of Jones in 1873. 
' The Rev. Cyrus Townsend Brady, in an article which ap- 
peared in the July, 1905, number of Munsey's Magazine,^ 
challenges this statement of Buell, exposes its fallacy, and 
declares his belief in the North Carolina tradition. And he 
gives strong and convincing reasons for his view of the matter. 
He says Buell wrote him that he got his information from one 
William Lowden, whom he met in St. Louis in 18Y3, and who 
was a great grandnephew of Paul Jones. Against this, be- 
sides the record evidence above quoted, we have the equally 
positive statement, quoted hereafter, made by William Low- 
den, the nephew of John Paul, to Mr. Hubard, of Virginia, 
in 1846, that he took the name of Jones out of affection for 
Willie and Allen Jones, of North Carolina. Which of the 
two statements should carry the more weight to the unbiased 
mind — ^the statement of the nephew, made in 1846, to a lineal 
descendant of Willie Jones, or the one made years later by the 
great grandnephew to Buell ? The question suggests but one 
answer. But to my mind the grandnephew gives testimony 
in support of my contention. He says that John Paul Jones 
took the name of Jones from William Jones, and the lane 
from William to Willie is but short. I admit this, but the 
rest of his statement is utterly disproved by the cold, dispas- 
sionate evidence of a court of record. 

I have thus endeavored to show how utterly unreliable, how 
entirely unfounded, is the voice of history. Let us see now, 

12 Some Facts About John Paui. Jokes. 

what tradition, as it has come down to us in North Carolina 
from our forefathers, may have to say. It will be conceded, 
I believe, by all who knew him, that my father, the late Hon. 
Gteorge Davis, was one of the most learned, most painstaking, 
and intelligent students of the history and traditions of our 
State. To these he devoted a very large portion of his leisure 
moments, with much labor, keen delight and tintiring study. 
Soon after I began the practice of law in his office, about 
1870 or '71, he told me, as a fact well known to, and accepted 
by, the men of the older generation in the State, from whom 
it had come to him, that soon after coming to Virginia, in 
1773, Paul met Willie Jones and paid him quite a long visit 
'at his home, ^^The Grove," in Halifax County, N. C. ; that he 
conceived a great attachment for Jones and his most accom- 
plished wife, and out of affection for them added Jones to his 

The following is an extract from a letter dated Saratoga, 
Buckingham County, Virginia, February 22, 1876, first pub- 
lished in the Baltimore Sun and afterwards in the Charleston 
^ews and Courier : . . . ^^While no revolutionary biography 
can boast more public events of vivid and intense interest 
than that of Paul Jones, none is so bare and meagre in per- 
sonal detail ; even the fact that he has immortalized a name, 
which was his only by selection and adoption, is slurred over 
in history with a calm statement that ^he changed his name 
for unknown reasons.' As the reasons were not unknown, 
and, however difficult to obtain later, were then easily accessi- 
ble, it appears to have been rather a lack of careful and 
intelligent investigation, than of facts, which caused their 
suppression. ... In 1773 the death of his brother in Vir- 
ginia, whose heir he was, induced him to settle in Virginia. 
It was then he added to his name, and henceforth was known 
as ^Paul Jones.' This was done in compliment to one of the 
most noted statesmen of that day, and, in the love and grati- 
tude it shadows forth, is a reproach to a people who could 

Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 13 

neglect in life and forget in death. It appears, that, before 
permanently settling in Virginia, moved by the restlessness 
of his old seafaring life, he wandered about the country, 
finally straying to North Carolina. There he became ac- 
quainted with two brothers, Willie and Allen Jones. They 
were both leaders in their day, and wise and honored in their 
generation. Allen Jones was an orator and silver tongued. 
Willie Jones, the foremost man of his State, and one of the 
most remarkable men of his time. . . . His home, ^The 
Grove,' near Halifax, was not only the resort of the cultivated 
and refined, but the home of the homeless. . . . And it was 
here the young adventurer, John Paul, was first touched by 
those gentler and purer influences, which changed not only his 
name, but himself, from the rough and reckless mariner into 
the polished man of society, who was the companion of kings, 
and the lion and pet of Parisian salons. The almost worship- 
ing love and reverence, awakened in his hitherto wild and 
untamed nature, by the generous kindness of the brothers, 
found expression in his adoption of their name. The truth 
of this account is not only attested by the descendants of 
Willie Jones, but by the nephew and descendant of Paul 
Jones, Mr. Lowden, of South Carolina. This gentleman in 
1846 was in Washington, awaiting the passage of a bill by 
congress, awarding him the land claim of his distinguished 
uncle, Paul Jones, which had been allowed by the Executive 
of Virginia. Hon. E. W. Hubard, then a member of con- 
gress from Virginia, had in 1844 prepared a report on Vir- 
ginia land claims, in which the committee endorsed that of 
Paul Jones. This naturally attracted Mr. Lowden to him, 
and, learning that Mrs. Hubard was a descendant of Willie 
Jones, he repeated both to Col. Hubard and herself the cause 
of his uncle's change of name, and added that amongst his 
pictures hung a portrait of Allen Jones." 

I have quoted largely from this interesting letter, because 
so many of the statements contained in it are true beyond 

14 Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 

contradiction, and because it is so strongly corroborative of 
the tradition I am seeking to sustain. Col. E. W. Hubard, 
of Virginia, married Miss Sallie Eppes, who was a grand- 
daughter of Willie Jones. He was a member of the 29 th 
congress, and in 1846 a bill was introduced in that body for 
the relief of the representatives of Paul Jones, which passed 
both houses. This bill, however, was by some mischance lost 
in the senate, and did not become a law. In the next con- 
gress, it was again introduced, and finally passed in March, 
1848. As early as 1787, congress had recommended the set- 
tlement of Jones's claim for ^^pay, advances, and expenses" 
amounting to £9784 16s. Id., but a full half century elapsed 
before justice was permitted to be done to the memory of 
one who had rendered such invaluable and illustrious services 
to this country. What a commentary upon the gratitude of 
republics ! 

Paul Jones's will was executed in Paris on July 18, 1792, 
the day of his death. A duly exemplified copy of it was ad- 
mitted to probate in Philadelphia on May 25, 1848, and 
Frances E. Lowden appointed administratrix de bene esse 
cum testamento annexo, and the government paid to her the 
sum of $21,202.44 for Jones's share of the prize money from 
the ships Betsey, Union and Charming Polly, captured by his 
squadron off the coast of England, his pay from June 21, 
1781, to May, 1788, $5,040, and $2,598.42 for moneys ad- 
vanced by him for the government, aggregating the sum of 

Again. I have before mentioned the fact that Jones had a 
nephew named Lowden, who lived in Charleston, S. C, in 
1825.* Now, what more natural and reasonable than that 
this nephew should be in Washington, when this bill claimed 
the attention of congress, to give his personal aid and atten- 
tion towards its passage, and the final accomplishment of a 
tardy act of justice. 

It may seem strange that this cause for Paul's change of 

*SeeSberbourne, notetopagelO. If iss Taylor, page 14. 

Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 15 

name should be known to Mr. Lowden, and not to Mrs. Tay- 
lor, Jones's sister, and her children. But then there were 
many strange and at this period unaccountable incidents in 
the life of this singular man. It would seem that there was 
not much love lost between the Lowdens and the Taylors, and 
therefore little or no correspondence between them. The 
following is an extract from a letter from Jones to his sister, 
Mrs. Taylor, dated Paris, December 27, 1790, and taken 
from Miss Taylor's book, page 519: "I duly received, my 
dear Mrs, Taylor, your letter of the 16th August, but ever 
since that time I have been unable to answer it, not having 
been capable to go out of my chamber, and having been for 
the most part obliged to keep my bed. ... I shall not conceal 
from you that your family discord aggravates infinitely all 
my pains. My grief is inexpressible, that two sisters, whose 
happiness is so interesting to me, do not live together in that 
mutual tenderness and affection, which would do so much 
honor to themselves and to the memory of their worthy rela- 
tions. . . . Though I wish to be the instrument of making 
family-peace, which I flatter myself would tend to promote 
the happiness of you all, yet I by no means desire you to do 
violence to your own feelings, by taking any step, that is con- 
trary to your own judgment and inclination." * 

Miss Taylor gives no explanation of this bitter feeling be- 
tween the two sisters, and this letter is the only allusion to it 
in her book. I venture to say that it was caused by the will 
of William Paul and the fact that he gave all his estate to his 
sister Mary, who afterwards married William Lowden. Every 
lawyer of experience well knows that there is nothing so well 
calculated to create bitterness and discord in a family as an 
unequal distribution of his estate by one of its members. 

Mr. Lowden moved to this country, at what time is un- 
known to me, and lived in South Carolina, while the Taylors 
remained in Scotland. It is easy to see that he may well have 
heard of this tradition, about which I am writing, after he 

* The letter ftom. Mrs. Taylor to which the above is an answer is not published in 
Miss Taylor's book. 

16 Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 

came to this country and have convinced himself of the truth 
of it ; and at the same time that it should not be known to the 
family who remained in Scotland. 

That distinguished and accomplished gentleman, the late 
Col. Cadwallader Jones, of Rock Hill, S. C, who died in 
1899 at the age of 86 years, in his genealogical history of the 
Jones family, page 6, says: "Willie Jones lived at ^The 
Grove,' near Halifax. These old mansions, grand in their 
proportions, were the homes of abounding hospitality. In 
this connection, I may mention that when John Paul Jones 
visited Halifax, then a young sailor and stranger, he made the 
acquaintance of those grand old patriots, Allen and Willie 
Jones. He was a young man, but an old tar, with a bold, 
frank, sailor bearing, that attracted their attention. He 
became a frequent visitor at their houses, where he was al- 
ways welcome. He soon grew fond of them, and as a mark 
of his esteem and admiration, he adopted their name, saying 
that if he lived he would make them proud of it. Thus John 
Paul became Paul Jones — it was his fancy. He named his 
ship the Bon Homme Richard in compliment to Franklin; 
he named himself Jones, in compliment to Allen and Willie 
Jones. When the first notes of war sounded, he obtained 
letters from these brothers to Joseph Hewes, member of con- 
gress from North Carolina, and through his influence received 
his first commission in the navy. I am now the oldest living 
descendant of General Allen Jones. I remember my aunt, 
Mrs. Willie Jones, who survived her husband many years, 
and when a boy I heard these facts spoken of in both fam- 

The distinguished historian of South Carolina, the late 
General Edward McCrady, of Charleston, S. C, in a letter 
dated April 3, 1900, says: "Mrs. McCrady was the grand- 
daughter of Gen. Wm. R. Davie, of revolutionary fame, who 
married the daughter of Gen. Allen Jones, of Mount Gallant, 
Northampton, N. C. Tradition in her branch of the family 

Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 17 

has been, that it was Allen Jones who befriended John Paul 
and not his brother Willie. ... It was in honor of Allen 
Jones that he adopted the name of Jones as surname to that 
of Paul.'' 

Col. W. H. S. Burgwyn, in his sketch of "The Grove" in 
volume 2, No. 9 of the North Carolina Booklet, mentions a 
letter received from Mrs. Wm. W. Alston, of Isle of Wight 
County, Virginia, a granddaughter of Willie Jones, over 
eighty years of age. She writes: ^^You ask did John Paul 
Jones change his name in compliment to my grandfather, 
Willie Jones. I have always heard that he did, and there is 
no. reason to doubt the fact. Not only have I always heard 
it, but it was confirmed by my cousin, Mrs. Hubard, wife of 
Colonel E. Hubard, from Virginia, while in Washington in 
1856^ with her husband, who was a member of congress. She 
there met a nephew of John Paul Jones, who sought her out 
on hearing who she was. He told her of hearing his uncle 
and the family speak of the incident often and his great 
devotion to the family, so that in my opinion you can state it 
as an historical fact." 

So that, to whatever branch of the Jones family we turn, 
whether to the descendants of Allen or of Willie, and whether 
living in North Carolina, or South Carolina, or Virginia, we 
find the same well cherished tradition that Paul took the 
name of Jones out of love for one or the other of these two 
brothers. And who shall say that this tradition, so long and 
so well preserved and sustained, even through a century and 
more, does not carry with it much greater weight and author- 
ity, than the wild surmises of soi-disant historians. It mat- 
ters not for the purposes of this article, whether it was from 
love of Allen or love of Willie, so that the fact remains. 

But we are not left to tradition alone for authority ; there 
are writers who rise to the dignity of historians who also 
testify to this fact. John H. Wheeler, the historian of North 

*Tlil8 is an evident error and should be 1846.-J. D. 

18 Some Facts About John Paul. Jones. 

Carolina, was a most indefatigable gatherer and collector of 
the traditions and historical events of this State. While not 
always strictly accurate in his details, yet his works are of 
acknowledged value and high authority. In his reminis- 
cences, page 198, he says: "The daring and celebrated John 
Paul Jones, whose real name was John Paul, of Scotland, 
when quite young, visited Mr. Willie Jones at Halifax, and 
became so fascinated with him, and his charming wife, that 
he adopted this family's name. In this name (John Paul 
Jones) he offered his services to congress, and was made 
lieutenant, December 22, 1775, on the recommendation of 
Willie Jones." 

In Appleton's Encyclopedia, volume 3, page 462, is a sketch 
of Allen and Willie Jones and of Mary Montford, wife of 
Willie Jones. I quote from this : "It is said that it was in 
affectionate admiration of this lady (Mrs. Willie Jones) 
John Paul Jones, whose real name was John Paul, added 
Jones to his name, and under it, by the recommendation of 
Willie, offered his services to congress." 

In the article on John Paul Jones in Harper's Encyclopedia 
of United States History, volume 5, page 189, the writer 
says : "Jones came to Virginia in 1773, inheriting the estate 
of his brother, who died there. Offering his services to con- 
gress, he was made first lieutenant in the navy in December, 
1775, when out of gratitude to General Jones, of North 
Carolina, he assumed his name. Before that he was John 

One of the latest works on the life of Jones is that written 
by the Rev. C. T. Brady, and published in 1900. He had 
access not only to all previous works on this subject, but also 
to a large number of rare books, pamphlets and manuscripts 
not available to earlier writers. He also says, that, in none 
of the correspondence of Jones which now remains, does he 
allude to his change of name. He says, page 10: "Very 
little is known of his life from this period" — that is, after his 

Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 19 

coining to America — ^^until his entry into the public service 
of the United States. . . . During this period, however, he 
took that step which has been a puzzle to so many of his 
biographers, and which he never explained in any of his 
correspondence that remains. He came to America under 
the name of John Paul; he re-appeared after this period of 
obscurity under the name of John Paul Jones." 

Mr. Brady mentions the claim advanced by the descendants 
of Willie and Allen Jones that it was out of affection for this 
family that Paul changed his name ; and while he mentions it 
without any expression of his 'belief or disbelief, yet he gives 
what I have always considered a strong reason for its support. 
No thoughtful student can follow the career of Paul without 
being struck by the almost magic transformation, in a short 
period, of the rough sailor into the polished gentleman and 
courtier, whose ease and grace of person and charm of manner 
made him distinguished even in the aristocratic circles of 
Paris. What brought about this marvelous re-incarnation 
of the man? He went to sea an apprentice at the age of 
twelve, and a few years later was engaged in the slave trade, 
in which he continued, rising to the position of first mate of 
a slaver, until 1768, when he was twenty-one years of age. 
So that during the formative period of his life, when the 
nature of a man is most susceptible, and when it is generally 
and most easily shaped and moulded by the surrounding influ- 
ences of his daily life, we find him engaged in the most 
brutalizing and degrading of services, one well calculated 
not merely to blunt and sear, but to kill all the gentle and 
refining tendencies which God may have implanted in his 
soul. So we may well ask what wrought this transformation ? 
When he quit the slave trade he still continued to follow the 
sea until he came to Virginia in 1773. So far we find in his 
life no explanation of this change. It must have taken place 
during that "period of obscurity'^ which followed, until he 
stepped forth in the full blaze of public notice as the Senior 

20 Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 

First Lieutenant of the Continental Navy in December, 1775, 
As I said before, Mr. Brady gives, what has ever seemed to 
me, the true explanation. Speaking of the friendship which 
sprang up between Willie Jones and Paul, and the invitation 
from Willie Jones to Paul to visit at his plantation (page 12), 
he says: ^^The lonely, friendless little Scotchman gratefully 
accepted the invitation — ^the society of gentle people always 
delighted him, he ever loved to mingle with great folk through- 
out his life, and passed a long period at ^The Grove' in Hali- 
fax County, the residence of Willie, and at 'Mt. Gallanf in 
Northampton County, the home of Allen. While there, ho 
was thrown much in the society of the wife of Willie Jones, 
a lady noted and remembered for her grace of mind and 
person. . . . The Jones brothers were men of culture and 
refinement. They were Eton boys, and had completed their 
education by travel and observation in Europe. That they 
should have become so attached to the young sailor as to have 
made him their guest for long periods, and cherished the high- 
est regard for him subsequently, is an evidence of the charac- 
ter and quality of the man. Probably for the first time in 
his life Paul was introduced to the society of the refined and 
cultivated. A new horizon opened before him, and he 
breathed, as it were, another atmosphere. Life for him 
assumed a new complexion. Always an interesting personal- 
ity, with his habits of thought, assiduous study, coupled with 
the responsibilities of command, he needed but a little contact 
with gentle people and polite society, to add to his character 
those graces of manner, which are the final crown of the gen- 
tleman, and which the best contemporaries have borne testi- 
mony he did not lack. The impression made upon him by 
the privilege of this association was of the deepest, and he 
gave to his new friends, and to Mrs. Jones especially, a warm- 
hearted affection and devotion amounting to veneration." 

No other of Jones's biographers, so far as my limited 
library has afforded me the means of research, has ever at- 

Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 21 

tempted to account for this phase of his character. Certainly 
the argument advanced by Mr. Brady is not only very plausi- 
ble, but is reasonable and grounded upon well attested tradi- 
tion. Since this article was written, Mr. Brady, in an article 
before mentioned, gives his voice in favor of the tradition I 
have related. 

There is another event, by far the most important and re- 
markable in the life of Jones, which his biographers have 
passed by with bare mention, and so far as I have been able 
to ascertain, without any attempt at explanation. How, by 
what means and influence, did he obtain his commission as 
the Senior First Lieutenant of the Continental Navy ? 

Hill, in his *^Twenty-six Historic Ships," page 12, says, 
"He (that is, Paul Jones,) was fain to content himself with a 
First Lieutenant's commission dated December 7, 1775, which 
was handed to him in Independence Hall by John Hancock 
in person on December 22, 1775. Paul Jones was thus the 
first officer of the Continental "Navj to receive his commis- 

Jones's autobiography was first published in this country, 
I believe, in Niles's Register ^ the first instalment appearing 
in the weekly number of June 6, 1812. It commences ab- 
ruptly with his connection with the Continental Navy, and 
contains no allusion to the previous events of his most event- 
ful life. ". . . . At the commencement of the American 
war (during the year 1775) I was employed to fit out the 
little squadron which the Congress had placed under Commo- 
dore Hopkins, who was appointed to the command of all the 
armed vessels appertaining to America; and I hoisted with 
my hands the American flag on board the Alfred, which wa3 
then displayed for the first time. I at the same time ac- 
quainted Mr. Hewes, a member of congress, and my particu- 
lar friend, with a project for seizing the island of St. Helena,'^ 
etc., etc. Mr. Hewes was then a member of the congress from 
North Carolina and a member of the Committee on Marine 

22 Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 

Affairs. I will later on allude to him and the cause of the 
friendship which Paul claimed with him. 

These things must arrest the attention of the thoughtful 
reader and prompt him to inquire what brought about thid 
sudden rise of Paul from obscurity to such signal honors. 
How did it come that this adventurer, of humble origin and 
poor estate, without apparent friends or influence, who had 
passed his life in the merchant service, after a scant two 
years' residence in this country, and that spent in an obscurity 
not penetrated by any of his numerous biographers, achieved 
such high rank over the heads of so many able American 
seamen eagerly seeking the position. I make bold to say, that 
it was his friends, Willie and Allen Jones, who, bringing all 
their powerful influence to bear on his behalf with their inti- 
mate friend Hewes, who was a member of the Committee on 
Marine Affairs, secured him the commission. In the inti- 
mate association which grew up between the two brothers 
and Paul during his long stay at "The Grove'' and "Mount 
Gallant," it is only reasonable to assume, that the constant 
and overshadowing theme of discussion between them was 
the critical condition of affairs in the colonies, the battle of 
Lexington, the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, 
the resolves of the Provincial and Continental Congresses, 
the embodying of the militia, all pointing to one inevitable 
end — ^war. The leaders of the people were at that time 
active, passing from point to point in the State, and gathering 
for counsel at the homes of the influential. It is certain that 
many such gatherings and conferences were had at "The 
Grove" and "Mount Gallant"; and, with our knowledge of 
Paul's character, we can be well assured that he was a for- 
ward and eager participant in all of them. In the coming 
conflict, he foresaw the opportunity his ambitious soul had 
been craving for — rank, distinction, homage, fame, power — 
and we can see him, with all the vigor of his powerful mind, 
his strong and forceful personality, his consummate knowl- 

Some Facts About John Paul Jojs^es. 23 

edge of his subject, unfolding his plans to an attentive audi- 
ence of an American navy to be created and commanded by 
himself, which would destroy the commerce of England, levy 
heavy tribute upon her seaport cities, wrest from her, whose 
proud boast was, 

"That not a sail without permission spreads," 

the supremacy of the seas, and above all send the name of 
Paul Jones ringing throughout the civilized world. 

Here at "The Grove," Hewes was a frequent and welcome 
visitor, and here he met and became acquainted with Paul. 
Hewes lived in Edenton, and was a merchant of considerable 
means, extensively engaged in shipping. He was an edu- 
cated gentleman, the intimate friend and associate of John 
Harvey, Samuel Johnston (to whose sister he was engaged at 
the time of her death), Iredell, Buncombe, Harnett, the 
Joneses, and all the other leading men of the State. He had 
been a member for years of the General Assemblies, was a 
member of the Provincial Congresses, with Willie Jones, and 
was one of the delegates from this State to the first, second 
and third Continental Congresses, and was one of the signers 
on behalf of this State of the Declaration of Independence. 

In December, 1773, he was appointed by the General As- 
sembly one of the Committee of Correspondence for the State. 
The chief duty of this committee was to keep in communica- 
tion and touch with the other colonies upon the issues of the 
day and the common defense. As a member of this import- 
ant body, he was brought into an acquaintance with all the 
leading men throughout the country, and when sent later as 
a delegate to the Continental Congress, he went, not as a 
stranger to a strange body, but as one well known and of 
influence in his State. 

He was a member of the Marine Committee of the First 
Continental Congress, which had in charge the whole naval 
department, and was the chairman of that committee in the 
second congress. He was virtually the first Secretary of the 

24 Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 

Here we find the reason of Paul's friendship with Hewes, 
and the true ground of his appointment as Senior First Lieu- 
tenant of the Continental ISTavy. There is no other hypothe- 
sis upon which it can be accounted for. So long as Hewes 
was on the Naval Committee and in a position to assist in 
his advancement, we find many letters from Paul to him, 
some explaining his actions in certain matters and others com- 
plaining of the injustice done him in the advancement over 
him of officers his juniors in date of appointment. 

We gather from these letters that he relied on Hewes not 
only for aid in his promotion, but for assistance in all mat- 
ters in which he might be brought in conflict with the navy 
department. I give here in their entirety three letters writ- 
ten by Paul Jones which may be of interest to the readers of 
the Quarterly and which tend to show the great obligations 
which he was under to Mr. Hewes : 


Alfred, 12th November, 1776. 
Off the CJoast of Cape Breton. 
Sir: — ^You are hereby appointed commander of our prize the brig- 
antine Active^ from Liverpool for Halifax. You are directed to pro- 
ceed with an possible despatch for the State of North Carolina, and 
to deliver your charge (the brigantine Active with my letters) unto 
Robert Smith, Esq., the agent at Eldenton. I request you to be very 
careful to keep a good look-out to prevent your being surprised or 
retaken; and you must by no means break bulk, of destroy any 
part of the cargo or stores except what may be absolutely necessary 
for your subsistence during the passage. If you find it impossible 
to reach and get into North Carolina, you are at liberty to go into 
any other of the United States of North America. I wish you a 
safe and speedy passage, and am, sir, your most obedient, very hum- 
ble servant, John Paul Jones. 

To Mr. Walter Spooner, Lieutenant of the ship-of-war the Alfred, 
and Commandier of the Alfred'^ prize, the brigantine Active. 

N. B. — ^When off the bar of Ocricock you are to hoist a jack or 
ensign on the under part of your jib^room as a signal for a pilot, 
and hoist your ensign union down. 

Some Facts About John Paul Joioss. 25 


Alfred, off the Coast of Cape Bbeton, 

18tli November, 1776. 

Sir: — I am happy in this opportunity of acknowledging the great 
obligation I owe to Mr. Hewes, by addressing my prize, the brigan- 
tine Active, to you. I have seen and do esteem yourself; but I 
knew your brother James well, when I toas myself a son of fortune. 
You will perhaps hear from me again in a short time. Meanwhile 
you may promulgate that I have taken the last transport with cloth- 
ing for Canada; no other will comie out this season, and all that 
have been sent before her are taken. This will make Burgoyne 
"shake a cloth in the wind," and check his progress on the lakea 
I have taken a private adventure of Captain Foxe's (in slops) for 
the use of my seamen, and should he be allowed his private trade, 
you will please to give him any credit he may occasionally want 
under fifty pounds sterling, till I write you more particularly on the 

I have the honor to be, with much esteem, sir, your most obedient, 
very humble servant, John Paul Jones. 

To Robert Smith, Esq., agent for the State of North Carolina. 


Rangeb, Brest 27th: May 1778. 
My dear and Honored Sir 

I had the Honor of writing to you from Nantes the 10th of Decem- 
ber last: — I sent three Copies each inclosing Copies of my letters to 
you from Portsmouth. I leave the enclosed Packet for Mr. Living- 
ston open for your perusal — and you are at free liberty to Copy 
from it any Part that may seem worth your Attention — I mention 
this well knowing how much you have interested yourself in my 
Concerns, for which I never can sufficiently thank you. 

I have my Dear Sir the Honor to be with real Esteem, 
Your's &c — 
Honorable Joseph Hewes. 

Spooner, the prize master of the Active, however, disobeyed 
Jones's express instructions, and instead of carrying his prize 
into Edenton, he carried it to Dartmouth, Massachusetts, 
where his brother was a prize agent. His motive in this was 
too plain for explanation. 

It is certain that early in their acquaintance, which was 

26 Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 

promoted by Willie and Allen Jones, Hewes had conceived 
a strong friendship for Paul Jones, and a thorough appre- 
ciation of his masterly abilites and profound knowledge of 
the science of his calling. He was active in bringing him to 
the notice of the Marine Committee, of Washington himself, 
and the leading members of the congress. At a meeting of 
the Marine or Naval Committee held June 24, 1775, upon the 
motion of Hewes, Jones was invited to appear before the 
committee and give it such advice and information as he 
might think would be useful. The invitation was eagerly 
accepted by him, and in response he soon went to Philadel- 
phia. A list of inquiries in writing was given him by the 
committee, first as to ^^the proper qualifications of naval offi- 
cers," and second, ^^the kind or kinds of armed vessels most 
desirable for the service of the United Colonies, keeping in 
view the limited resources of the congress." 

I wish that I had the space to give in full Jones's letters in 
reply to these two inquiries. They clearly show the transcend- 
ent genius of the man. 

Belknap in his preface to Hill's most interesting book, says : 
^^Equally fortunate was it, too, when the creation of a navy 
was becoming a question of vital concern to the country, that 
Paul Jones, the masterly seaman and consummate naval 
commander of the Eevolution, was at hand to lay before the 
Marine Committee his luminous letters embodying his views 
as to the material and personnel of the navy — ^letters so strong 
and forceful, so illuminating, and instructive, that the one 
pertaining to personnel may well stand for all time." This 
letter on personnel was addressed to Hewes, who before sub- 
mitting it to the committee showed it to Gen. Washington, 
whose comment upon it was : "Mr. Jones is clearly not only a 
master mariner within the scope of the art of navigation, but 
he also holds a strong and profound sense of the political and 
military weight of command on the sea. His powers of use- 
fulness are great and must be constantly kept in view." 

The senior officers of the new navy were recommended by 

Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 27 

the Marine Committee early in December, 1775, to the con- 
gress, and appointed by it. The committee placed Paul 
Jones at the head of the first lieutenants. Buell says there 
was a very bitter and heated debate in the committee, over 
this placement of Jones, between Hewes and John Adams. 
Hewes earnestly urged the appointment of Jones as a captain, 
while Adams bitterly opposed it and championed Saltonstall 
of New England. In speaking of this debate, Hewes says: 
^The attitude of Mr. Adams was in keeping with the always 
imperious and often arrogant tone of the Massachusetts people 
at that time. They contended that they had shed the first 
blood, both their own and that of the enemy. They urged 
that they had already yielded everything to Virginia and 
Pennsylvania in the organization and command of the army ; 
that they, representing the principal maritime colony, were 
entitled to the leading voice in the creation of the naval 

Here we have a fair illustration of the same petty bicker- 
ings, small jealousies, and place hunting for favorites, at 
the expense of the good of the country, which have in time 
of war, even to this date, disgraced this republic. 

The New England influence was, however, too great for 
Hewes and he could only obtain the position of senior lieu- 
tenant for Jones. Of the five captains at this time appointed 
by congress, all save the gallant but ill-fated Biddle, proved 
miserable failures, and two at least, Esek Hopkins and Salton- 
stall, were forced to retire from the navy in disgrace. But 
the wonderful genius for naval warfare subsequently so sig- 
nally displayed by Jones, marks the prescience of Hewes, hii 
clear judgment of men, and keen insight into character. It 
is interesting to note here that John Adams was forced to ad- 
mit in later years the grievous error that he had made. When 
Jones was afterwards, June 26, 1781, appointed to the fine 
70-gun ship, "America," which was built at Portsmouth under 
his supervision, and which, however, he was destined never to 
command, Adams wrote him : 

28 Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 

^^The command of the "America" could not have been 
more judiciously bestowed, and it is with impatience that 
I wish her at sea, where she will do honor to her name. 
. . . Indeed, if I could see a prospect of half a dozen line of 
battle ships under the American flag, commanded by Commo- 
dore Paul Jones, engaged with a British force equal or not 
hopelessly superior, I apprehend the event would be so glo- 
rious for the United States, and would lay so sure a founda- 
tion for the prosperity of its navy, that it would be rich com- 
pensation for the continuance of the war." In reply to this 
letter, Jones could not resist a very neat thrust under the ribs. 
He wrote: "If I had a squadron of ships like the America, 
commanded each by a captain like Manly, Dale, Biddle, 
Barney, or Cottineau, I should let fly the general signal for 
closer action, and leave the results to take care of itself. But, 
if I had captains like Landais, or some others not needful to 
name, I should contemplate the probable outcome with a 

In his letters to Hewes, Jones acknowledges that he was 
indebted to him for his appointment. I give two extracts 
out of many to support this. In a letter to Hewes of May 
22, 1778, he says: ". . . The great individual obligation I 
owe you makes it more than ever my duty to keep you per- 
sonally advised of my movements. I need not assure you that 
this is a welcome duty, much as I deplore the cause of it, for 
the reason that I know there is no person living to whom news 
of my success can bring more satisfaction than to yourself. 
And you are surely entitled to such satisfaction hecause you 
more than any other person have labored to place the instru- 
ments of success in my hands." 

Again, writing Hewes under date of November 7, 1778, 
he says: "Of one thing, in spite of all, you may definitely 
assure yourself, and that is I will not accept any command 
or enter into any arrangement, that can in the least bring in 
question or put out of sight the regular rank I hold in the 


Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 29 

United States Navy, for which I now, as always, acknowledge 
my debt to you more than to any other person." These ex- 
tracts fully establish the truth of the statement before made 
that Hewes procured Jones his appointment in the navy, a 
fact which I think is now conceded by every one who has 
made a study of his career. 

There is another fact which goes to corroborate the reasons 
I have advanced for his change of name, and that is that 
Paul Jones was appointed to the Continental Navy from the 
State of North Carolina. In the 21st volume of the Colonial 
and State Kecords, page 527, is a letter from Hon. Eobert 
Burton, of Granville County, then a member of Congress, to 
Governor Samuel Johnston, dated January 28, 1789. It is 
as follows: 

"Dear Sir: 

As those who have fought and bled for us in the late contest can- 
not be held in too high esteem, and as Chevalier John Paul Jones is 
among the foremost who derived their appointment from this State 
that deserves to be held in remembrance to the latest Ages, I take 
the liberty of offering to the State as a presient thro' you, its chief 
Magistrate, the Bust of that great man and good soldier to perpet- 
uate his memory. If you do me the honor to accept it, you will 
please inform me by a line." 

To this, Governor Johnston replied, under date of Febru- 
ary 19, 1789, that he would readily accept the bust, on behalf 
of the State, and communicate Mr. Burton's letter to the 
next General Assembly for its order. Soon after this, No- 
vember 27, 1789, Governor Johnston was elected to the 
Senate of the American Congress, and I cannot find that 
he or his successor. Governor Martin, communicated Mr. 
Burton's letter to the Assembly. I find among the correspond- 
ence of Jones* a letter to Jefferson, dated Paris, March 20, 
1791, in which he says that Mr. Burton had asked for his bust 
in behalf of the State of North Carolina, and that he had 
ordered Houdon to prepare and forward it by the first ship 

*Sherbounie, page S27. 


30 Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 

from Havre de Grace to Philadelphia addressed to Jefferson, 

and he asked him to give it to the North Carolina delegates to 

forward to the governor of that State. Jefferson answered 

this letter under date of August 31, 1791, but made no answer 

or reference to this request. After much inquiry, I ana 

^ forced to the conclusion that the matter dropped right here, 

CX and, as Paul Jones died July 18, 1792, that the bust was 

Q V never presented to the State. 

All of Jones's biographers, I believe, agree that he came to 
American in 1773, and most of them, certainly those self-styled 
historians who have written sketches for the newspapers and 
magazines, assert that he came to take over the estate of his 
brother, William Paul. Even his niece. Miss Taylor, in her 
book, page 310, says: "He had recovered, as I know from 
the best sources, several thousand pounds from the wreck of 
his brother's fortune in Virginia." This statement cannot 
be reconciled with the indisputable facts, that William Paul 
left his entire estate to his sister, Mary Lowden, and her two 
eldest children, that William Paul did not die, and his will 
was not admitted to probate, until late in the year 1774, at 
least a year after Jones came to America, and that a stranger 
was allowed to administer upon it. I am informed by the 
clerk of Spottsylvania County, that no account of the admin- 
istration or distribution of this estate can be found among the 
records of his court, but as a bond of only £500 was required 
of the administrator, the personal estate could not have ex- 
ceeded £250. 

Jones himself ascribes another reason for his coming to 
America, and as it tends to support the fact I am striving to 
1^ prove, I shall give it. In a letter to Robert Morris, dated 
N^eptember 4, 1776, he says: "I conclude that Mr. Hewes 
has acquainted you with a very great misfortune which befell 
me some years ago and which brought me into North America. 
I am under no concern whatever that this, or any other past 
circumstance of my life, will sink me in your opinion." 

Some Facts About John Paul. Jones. 31 

Sherbourne, in commenting on this letter, most truly says: 
"The misfortune of which he speaks could not have impli- 
cated his moral character, or he would not have enjoyed the 
confidence of the Honorable Mr. Hewes, to whom, as Jones 
informed Mr. Morris, the particulars were known." I have 
no doubt that this misfortune to which Jones alludes was the 
death of Maxwell, which was charged against him in England 
as murder. 

There is still another fact, lightly touched upon by the 
writers, which supports my views. In a letter to Mr. Stuart 
Mawey, of Tobago, dated May 4, 1777, and given in full by 
Miss Taylor in her book, page 25, Jones says: "After an 
unprofitable suspense of twenty months (having subsisted on 
£50 only during that time), when my hopes of relief were 
entirely cut off, and there remained no possibility of my 
receiving wherewithal to subsist upon from my effects in your 
island, or in England, I at last had recourse to strangers for 
that aid and comfort, which was denied me by those friends, 
whom I had entrusted with my all. The good offices which 
are rendered to persons in their extreme need ought to make 
deep impressions on grateful minds; in my case, I feel the 
truth of that sentiment, and am bound by gratitude as well 
as honor to follow the fortunes of my late benefactors. . . . 
I wish to disbelieve it, although it seems too much of a 
piece with the unfair advantage which to all appearance 
he took of me, when he left me in exile for twenty months a 
prey to melancholy and want/^ This period ^^of unprofitable 
suspense," during which he eked out existence for twenty 
months on bare £50, and which doubtless was as gall and 
wormwood to his proud spirit, must have been that "period 
of obscurity" between 1773 and 1775, which was as a sealed 
book to all of his biographers save Buell, and the period of 
which he spent a large part at the homes of Allen and Willie 
Jones. I think I am justified in saying, that they were the 
"benefactors" to whom he alluded, and that his declarations 

32 Some Facts About John Paul. Jones. 

that he "was bound by gratitude as well as honor to follow'^ 
their fortunes, was intended as an explanation of his having 
adopted the cause of the colonies as his own. If Jones had 
acquired that valuable plantation in Virginia from his brother 
and William Jones, as Buell says he did, could he have com- 
plained that he had been left "in exile for twenty months a 
prey to melancholy and want" with but £50 for his subsistence 
during that period, and have spoken only of his property in 
Tobago and England. 

Having treated him with such gross neglect and base ingrat- 
itude during his life, it is but a fitting sequel that this great 
republic should now surround his last interment with all that 
pomp and glory which would have been so grateful to him in 
life. Neglected in life and exalted after death — such, alas, is 
too often the tardy and empty tribute awarded by our people 
to our great men. 

In a few modest words, Jones has summed up the value 
of his services to this country. Miss Taylor (page 548) says 
the following, in his own handwriting, was found after his 
death among his papers: "In 1775, I^JPaul Jones, armed 
and embarked in the first American ship of war. In the 
Revolution, he had 23 battles and solemn recountres by sea ; 
made seven descents in Britain and her colonies ; took of her 
navy two ships of equal, and two of far superior force, many 
store ships and others ; constrained her to fortify her ports ; 
suifer the Irish volunteers (meaning the embodying of the 
militia in Ireland not before allowed, J. D.), desist from her 
cruel burnings in America, and exchange, as prisoners of war, 
the American citizens, taken on the ocean and cast into pris- 
ons in England as traitors, pirates and felons. In his peril- 
ous situation in Holland, his conduct drew the Dutch into the 
war, and eventually abridged the Eevolution." 

What more fitting epitaph for the grand column of marble, 
which will be erected over his ashes at Annapolis, can be 
proposed than this? He has written his own epitaph, and 

Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 33 

it should be adopted to point out the story of his life to the 
future officers of our navy. 

In an article written by Mr. J. H. Myrover, of Fayette- 
ville, N. C, which lately appeared in the Wilmington Mes- 
senger, and which prompted me to write this article, he vir- 
tually stated that in his opinion there was no foundation for 
the tradition that John Paul took the name of Jones out of 
his affection for Willie Jones and his wife. Emanating from 
such an accomplished and well-known writer, and one so well 
informed in the history of his State, this declaration must 
have attracted attention and may some day be cited for author- 
ity. For this, and other apparent reasons, I have thought 
it would be well within the scope of this article to sketch 
briefly the political standing and influence of Willie Jones 
at the breaking out of the Revolution. One reason given by 
Mr. Myrover, for his disbelief, was that Willie Jones "was, 
if anything, a younger man than John Paul Jones; and 
though always a great man, Willie Jones had not reached 
the zenith of his power and political influence until John 
Paul had been sleeping in his grave for some years in Paris." 
I do not know the date of the birth of Willie Jones, but he 
was only two or three years younger than his brother. General 
Allen Jones, who was bom in 1739. Willie Jones was aide 
de camp and captain on Tryon's staff during the war of the 
Regulators. He was a member of the General Assemblies of 
1770, 1771, 1772, 1773, 1774, and also a delegate to the first 
and second Provincial Congresses. As early as 1773, he was 
the friend and associate of Cornelius Harnett, John Harvey, 
Samuel Johnston, William Hooper, Maurice Moore, Joseph 
Hewes, Hugh Waddell, Abner Nash, Thos. Person, Thomas 
Jones, and others of like fame and influence. John Harvey, 
"the great moderator," was then the acknowledged leader of 
the patriots, and the man to whom all looked for the initiative 
in all important undertakings. It is generally conceded that 
we owe to him that celebrated convention — ^the first Provincial 

34 Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 

Congress — ^which met at New Bern in 1774. Governor Mar- 
tin had dissolved the General Assembly and determined not 
to call it together again. This determination had been com- 
municated by Martin's private secretary, Biggleston, to Har- 
vey, who was the Speaker of the House. Saunders, in his 
prefatory notes to vol. 9, Colonial Records, page 29, says: 
^^Harvey's reply to this was, ^Then the people will convene 
one themselves.' " On the 3d of April, 1774, Harvey con- 
ferred with Willie Jones at Halifax, and on the 4th, with 
Samuel Johnston and Col. Buncombe at the house of the 
latter in Tyrrell County. ^^He was in a very violent mood," 
says Johnston, in a letter written to William Hooper on the 
next day, "and declared he was for assembling a convention in- 
dependent of the governor, and that he would lead the way and 
issue hand hills over his own name/' Moore, in his History, 
vol. 1, page 162, in writing of the same matter, says : "Harvey 
left New Bern at once, and first sought the counsel and aid 
of Willie Jones. In him he recognized a kindred spirit, and 
to him it was first proposed April 3, 1774, that Col. Harvey, 
as Speaker of the House of Assembly, should call a convention 
of the people at New Bern. . . . Willie Jones gave his hearty 
adhesion to the scheme. He was to North Carolina what 
Thomas Jefferson was to Virginia." 

Jones says, page 124 : "There were five characters of that 
day, whose extraordinary services in the cause of the first 
Provincial Congress deserve to be particularly noticed. John 
Harvey, William Hooper, Willie Jones, Samuel Johnston and 
James Iredell, were the principal pioneers in that great and 
perilous undertaking." So that we find Harvey to whom the 
whole State looked as its leader, singling out Willie Jones as 
the first man in the State with whom he would counsel as to 
the grave, momentous and extremely perilous step he was 
then intending to propose and advocate — a step so grave, so 
full of peril and danger to the life and property of all its 
advocates, that the counties of Chatham, Edgecombe, Guil- 

Some Facts About John Paul. Jones. 35 

ford, Hertford, Surry, and Wake, and the boroughs of Hills- 
boro, Salisbury, Brunswick Town and Campbelltown shrunk 
from electing delegates to the convention. 

When Martin fled from New Bern, there were no courts 
and no laws, and it became necessary to provide some system 
of government for the new and budding State. The Con- 
gress on August 20, 1775, appointed a committee, of which 
Willie Jones was one, for that purpose, and out of its delibera- 
tions was evolved the Provincial Council, consisting of thir- 
teen members, which was to be the supreme executive of the 
State when the Congress was not sitting. This council was 
composed as follows: Samuel Johnston, chairman; Cornelius 
Harnett, Samuel Ashe, Thomas Jones, Whitmell Hill, Abner 
Nash, James Coor, Thomas Person, John Kinchin, WUlie 
Jones, Thomas Eaton, Samuel Spencer, and Waightstill 
Avery, all historic names, and the deeds and fame of the men 
who wore them, still shine down to us through the ages of the 

The Provincial Congress which met at Halifax in April, 
1776, abolished the Provincial Council and created in its 
stead a State Council of Safety. Of this council, Willie 
Jones was chairman, and so during its life was virtually gov- 
ernor of the State. On November 12, 1776, a congress met 
at Halifax, which had been called, and the delegates to it 
elected, for the purpose of framing and adopting a Bill of 
Rights and a Constitution, and appointed a committee to 
draft these instruments, of which Willie Jones was a member. 
The Bill of Rights was adopted December 17, 1776, and the 
Constitution December 18, 1776. 

Jones says (page 287) : "Thus were the Bill of Rights 
and the Constitution of the State formed. They are said to 
have come from the pen of Thomas Jones, aided and assisted 
by Willie Jones." Again, on page 139, Jones says: "Thomas 
Jones, of Chowan, was a lawyer of some distinction in those 
days and carried the skill and prudence of his profession to 


36 Some Facts About John Paul Jones. 

the American cause. Between this man and Willie Jones 
rests the honor of having written the Constitution of North 
Carolina. I speak upon the authority of a deceased friend 
(the late Judge Murphy) when I ascribe the distinction to 
Thomas Jones, although I do not deny the claim of the other. 
They were most undoubtedly the f ramers of the instrument ; 
and it bears in so many instances the stamp of the peculiar 
services of Willie Jones, that I cannot give up the conclusion 
which I formed so many years since, that he had a material 
agency in its composition, as well as its adoption.'^ This 
was that grand and sublime chart of our liberties, which was 
handed down from one generation to another unaltered for 
sixty years, and but slightly changed or amended, until it 
was soiled by the foul touch of the hand of reconstruction. 
In the light of these facts, graven upon the history of our 
State, who can say with truth that Willie Jones was in 1775 
without power or political influence in the State ? 





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